Herp Update: Aug 7 – spring salamanders, spiny softshells, and a green frog video
We have recently spent two days in Sharon trying to find Spring Salamanders in that town. Although we updated records for a variety of other species, we were unable to find any Spring Salamanders. Spring Salamanders are one of what I call the “saturated soil” salamanders. They lay their eggs under rocks in rivers, spend 3-5 years in their larval stage with external gills and when they reach 5-6 inches in length, they metamorphose and become terrestrial. Even then, they never wander far from cold, clean, well-oxygenated, small, rocky brooks (see attached photo). They are an impressive-looking salamander.
Spiny Softshells (turtles)
The most exciting recent record to come in was of a Spiny Softshell (turtle) at Delta Park in Colchester (see attached). Historically, we had three populations of this state-threatened species all centered on deltas of our major northwestern rivers (Missisquoi, Lamoille, and the Winooski). However, until 2019 we had not had a report of a Spiny Softshell from the Winooski River since 1853. In 2019 Liz L sent us the first report of a Spiny Softshell in the Winooski River in over a century. Last week Jo R sent us a photo of an adult male Spiny Softshell from Delta Park in Colchester (see attached). We are hoping that Spiny Softshells will reestablish a population in and around the Winooski River. If they do, Delta Park would be a likely area for them to lay their eggs.
Green Frog Video (she who hesitates is lost)
Heather Furman, the state director of the Vermont Nature Conservancy recently completed her covid project of building a frog pond at her home. She says she now has Wood Frogs, Green Frogs, and Gray Treefrogs using it. She admits she can’t resist throwing a few non-native worms their way for treats. Check out this video she took of a recent feeding. If a frog can be pissed, this one was.